Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hassles and opportunities

Last week I was asked to do a funeral booked at a time which clashed with one of my weekday services. The Funeral Director was adament this was the only time available on that day, and somewhat reluctantly I said I would find a replacement to take my service, as the funeral was of someone from the street in which St Teilo's church is located. This involved leaving a message and waiting three days for a reply, because my locum was away for the weekend. No sooner than I had this sorted than I found a message on the answering machine to say that the funeral had been postponed as the coroner’s enquiry had not yet reached a conclusion. So why book me until certain that the latter had completed his investigation?
Funeral companies are often so keen to conclude all their arrangments, they’ll hire anyone they can to conduct the service if local clergy, who might have a pastoral link with the mourners, aren’t readily available. There are fewer and fewer clergy around, increasingly stretched and needing to manage demands on their time. Funeral directors and clergy of all denominations would benefit from sitting down together and examining the problems of availability. Clergy would benefit from working more closely together in teams. I make proposals about this to my area colleagues, but they fall on deaf ears. Eventually, when our numbers are halved, necessity will bite, and hopefuly stimulate creativity. In France already where priests are in chronic shortage, trained lay bereavement teams accompany the grieving and conduct services in the priest’s absence. Will we go that way too?
Anyway, just as I was considering whether or not to stand down my locum, I had another call to cancel a meeting due for the afternoon of the same day, so I decided to benefit from this co-incidence and quit Cardiff for a few hours. Ty Mawr Convent, my favourite spiritual watering hole is only fifty minutes drive from home, so I was able to go over there in good weather, and join them for their tranquil midday Mass. So good to be on the receiving end in a place which is a real spiritual home to me.
After a few hours sunshine and a visit to a good friend on the way home, I attended the City Council’s Conservation Advisory Group for the central area, with its regular task of keeping a watching brief on planning applications for building developments in the city centre. This is an interesting group from which I learn a great deal, as its members are full of architectural and design expertise. If I am able to contribute anything, I guess it’s from the angle of examining the social impact of proposed changes.
My last duty of the day was to meet a couple wanting to marry next year – she from Portugal, and he a Cardiffian. I now have the challenge of facilitating a cross-cultural bi-lingual wedding service, for which I shall have to a) find and Anglican tradation of the Prayer Book wedding service and b) learn to read the appropriate sentences (the bride’s vow and the blessing) in a suitably authentic way. That’ll be quite a pleasure. I haven’t done anything like that since leaving Monaco three and a half years ago.

No comments: